Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Movie review by
S. K. List, Common Sense Media
Darby O'Gill and the Little People Movie Poster Image
'50s Disney tale set in Ireland has drinking, some violence.
  • G
  • 1996
  • 93 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 5+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Celebrates the wit of the Irish and Irish culture.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Janet Munro's character, Katie, is assertive and doesn't wait for the boy she likes to ask her out.

Violence & Scariness

A moaning banshee, harbinger of death, and the Costa Bower, the death coach, make a short, shivery appearance. Some violence, mostly off-screen. The heroine swipes the hero's cheek, leaving a mark. Two men get into a pub fight, with fists and a broken bottle. Lead character falls backward into a well. Villain knocks out a main character, and pours whiskey all over him to make him look as if he's passed out from excessive drinking. A character threatens to throw another into the water "like a kitten."

Sexy Stuff

Some kissing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many scenes take place in a village pub where, over pints of stout and glasses of whiskey, Darby spins tall tales to his friends and enemies. One scene relies on the leprechaun king getting drunk -- Darby and King Brian engage in a drinking contest that goes back and forth for dozens of rounds. At the pub, Darby passes along glasses of whiskey to King Brian while he's trapped inside a sack. Pipe smoking. One character offers another a pinch of snuff.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Darby O'Gill and the Little People is a 1959 Disney movie in which an elderly man from a small Irish village tries to get three wishes from the king of the leprechauns. While mostly a wholesome and somewhat dated movie (with a young Sean Connery), the drinking will be of concern for some. In one scene, Darby and King Brian engage in an epic whiskey drinking contest, trading drinks of whiskey and witty verse until King Brian is unable to move. A pub fight between two rivals breaks out, with fists and broken bottles. Darby's fanciful stories take place in the village pub, where pub-goers drink stout and whiskey, and some in the background smoke pipes. A character offers another a pinch of snuff. Some scenes of a banshee, and of a death coach, may be a bit much for younger and more sensitive viewers, as well as a scene in which one of the characters threatens to throw another into the water "like a kitten." 


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bybenraleigh April 9, 2016

Not for young kids

This movie had a lot of drinking the word ''hell'' and it was scary.
Parent Written byheather s October 11, 2011

Not Fun for Young Kids

I remembered this as a great movie when I was a kid. The leprechauns and their dancing are very cool but the main characters are all grown-ups. My 4-year old ba... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byArwen Baggins July 30, 2020

Warning : Contains Leperchans, and may have come in contact with some Luck O' the Irish.

Darby O'Gill is a really good family movie.

My brother and I watched it when we where 5 and 6 and we liked it (though some children that age may find it b... Continue reading

What's the story?

Darby O'Gill (Albert Sharpe) loses his job to a younger man (Sean Connery). On his way home to tell his daughter Katie (Janet Munro), he ends up in an underground leprechaun kingdom. Although he's told that he can't leave the kingdom, Darby escapes, followed by King Brian (Jimmy O'Dea). Brian ends up becoming Darby's property, and Darby demands Brian grant him three wishes and he'll let him go.

Is it any good?

The media has used leprechauns as cereal salesmen and serial killers, but Disney and director Robert Stevenson effectively captured their mischievous charm and integral place in Irish tradition. Central elements are a multilayered story (based on works by H.T. Kavanagh), skillful use of special effects photography, and a capable, winning cast. Darby himself is a character as colorful as his own tales and well-matched by King Brian, who manages to avoid stereotype while proving his fondness for Darby, both as a worthy adversary and fast friend.

The film offers a rich blend of atmospheric otherworldliness (in the mists of the fairy mountain, Knocknasheega, where pookas reign) and earthy realism (in the rustic sets, rousing music, and authentically craggy faces). In his youthful glory, Sean Connery shines (and sings!) in his scenes with the adorable Janet Munro. She's spunky and modern, inviting him to a dance and initiating their first kiss. Their bumpy romance adds a warm dimension. Kids and even adults may stumble over some of the Irish accents, but these enhance the flavor and obscure nothing essential. From the same Disney era that produced the favorite Old Yeller, Darby O'Gill and the Little People is a classic in its own right.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages. What do the characters learn?

  • How does the movie convey Irish wit and culture? Does it seem like a positive reflection, or does it seem stereotyped? Why?

  • In what ways does Katie seem like a strong female lead character, particularly for a movie from the 1950s?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Disney

Themes & Topics

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